A HOST of unlikely circumstances came together to save a man’s life on July 6 and saw two members of Marine Rescue Forster Tuncurry receive commendations.
Watch officer Grant Maxwell was on duty in the unit’s radio base on the Forster breakwall at around 9am on the day when he received a garbled radio call.
“I recognised their call sign but when I tried to answer I got no response,” Grant recalled.
“About five minutes later I noticed a boat returning at great speed across the bar heading towards the harbour, then a man arrived at the base asking if I could take a defibrillator down to the boat ramp.”
Grant grabbed the defibrillator from the unit’s reception area and hurried to the nearby Forster boat harbour ramp a couple of hundred metres away.
When he arrived he found another Marine Rescue member, Milton Shaw, performing CPR on an elderly man in the boat that Grant had seen rushing in from sea. Milton, though a Marine Rescue member, was not on duty and was in the harbour on an aborted fishing trip.
“It starts first go every time, but for some reason that day my boat wouldn’t start,” Milton explained.
“If it had of started I’d have been out to sea myself when that boat came in, so it turns out he was lucky I was there.”
Milton, who previously served 20 years with the Ambulance Service of the ACT, commenced CPR.
“He was unconscious and without a pulse so I started CPR and told someone to run up to the tower and get them to bring the defib down.”
Soon after, Grant arrived and connected the defibrillator and applied one shock before Milton re-started CPR on the man.
“I didn’t realise it was Milton, I thought it was just another fisherman in a fishing hat.”
NSW Ambulance and Fire and Rescue crews arrived soon after and transferred the man to Manning Base Hospital. The quick-thinking and response from Milton and Grant saved the man’s life.
“We don’t think this was the type of day the gentleman and his two friends had planned when they left to go fishing off shore. The use of the defibrillator saved the man’s life,” unit commander Dennis Travers said.
Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Stacey Tannos commended the two volunteers for their swift, calm response to a serious medical emergency.
“Grant and Milton have demonstrated the value of our members’ comprehensive first aid training and the life-saving impact of defibrillator units,” Ms Tannos said.
“These two volunteers are a credit to their unit and our organisation and deserve our thanks and congratulations for their ability and the assistance they provided in a life-threatening emergency.”
The main lesson, according to Milton, is for people to learn CPR.
“It saves lives, it’s very worthwhile for anyone to learn CPR you never know when you might need it.”
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